The Alexander County Board of Commissioners received a favorable audit report for the Fiscal Year 2017 from Jill Vang of Martin Starnes & Associates CPAs at the board’s December 4th meeting.
Commissioners were informed that the county audit received an “unmodified opinion,” which means the CPA firm found no material misstatements that led them to believe the financial statements would be misleading to the reader.
Vang also commended the Alexander County Finance Department staff for their professional, courteous cooperation during the audit process.
She reported that General Fund Revenues were comprised mainly of property taxes at 52 percent, local option sales taxes at 22 percent, and restricted intergovernmental (federal and state grants) at 13 percent. Property tax revenues increased approximately $5,000 (0.02 percent increase). Local option sales tax increased $1.6 million (23.2 percent increase), but the auditor noted that $1,352,019 of the increase comes from the state’s new sales tax distribution plan (Article 44*524), which is earmarked for economic development, public education, and community colleges. The restricted intergovernmental revenues increased approximately $140,000 (2.8 percent increase).
In terms of General Fund Expenditures, the three largest areas of spending include human services (28 percent), public safety (27 percent), and education (18 percent). Human services expenditures decreased $365,000 (3.6 percent decrease), which is primarily due to the sale of the Alexander County Health Department’s Home Health Agency about two years ago. Public safety expenditures increased about $323,000 (3.6 percent increase), mainly due to changes in salaries and wages. Education expenditures increased approximately $414,000 (7.1 percent increase), which includes current expenses for the Alexander County Board of Education, the Alexander Central Auditorium reimbursement, and CVCC.
General Fund debt balance as of June 30, 2017 totals $8,406,036, with $128,333 (general government) to be paid off in 2018, $2,277,703 (education) to be paid off in 2021, and $6,000,000 (public safety) to be paid off in 2026. The debt service payments for FY 2017 totaled $1.9 million.
Available Fund Balance increased $2,971,826, which brings the county’s Fund Balance percentage to 35.86 percent of total General Fund expenditures and transfers, for a total of $12,959,097.
County Manager Rick French explained that having a significant Fund Balance is necessary to gain Local Government Commission (LGC) approval to obtain loans for county projects.
Finance Director Jennifer Herman said that Alexander County’s available Fund Balance is in line with others counties in its population group of 25,000 to 50,000 residents.
French said a water line project is getting ready to begin, which will cost approximately $5,319,000. This project will provide water service to seven different sections of roads. The county is also finalizing plans for a sewer project in the Bethlehem community, which will cost approximately $5,284,926. French said the county has been approved by the state to apply for loans for these two infrastructure projects. If the county’s Fund Balance wasn’t adequate, the county wouldn’t be allowed by the LGC to take on more debt.
French also mentioned that the county will be renovating the former Community One Bank building to accommodate numerous county offices. This project will cost more than $2 million.
Additionally, NC Hwy. 127 will be widened to four lanes in 2023, which will create costs for the county to relocate infrastructure and utilities.
At the meeting, the auditor also briefly mentioned the Solid Waste Fund and Water Funds, as well as new governmental financial reporting requirements and compliance requirements.
Commissioner Jeff Peal made a motion to approve the audit report as presented, with a second by Ryan Mayberry, and the report was unanimously approved.